By Madi Wong, Writer for RU Student Life
Growing up, my mom has always embedded words of advice into my mind about being safe in the city.
“Walk on sidewalks with streetlights,” “Don’t listen to your music too loud at night,” “Always take a friend with you,” “Hold your keys between your knuckles as a weapon,” are some of the tips I have been given over the years.
These kinds of tips have been passed onto daughters, granddaughters, friends, partners, from generations of women all around the world. All because of how dangerous this world can be. As well as how dangerous other people can be.
Though I may get annoyed by my mom repeating all of these things to me, I know she comes from the right place. She always says to me that it is not that she does not trust me, it is that she does not trust the world and other people in it.
Women around the world of different races, ages, sexualities and social class have all experienced situations where they have been victims of sexual assault, victims of domestic violence and victims of sexualization and objectification.
As well as other situations that happen every single day; from cat calls to receiving disturbing messages on social media to getting followed on dark streets.
The disappointing reality is that all of these cases of violence against women still happen.
Due to these situations, women are guided to approach things differently as opposed to men. Often, our feelings, thoughts and actions are affected because of what we have been told, to be careful and to be afraid.
In comparison to men, women typically feel less safe walking around at night and less comfortable going somewhere alone instead of going somewhere with a friend. When we go out alone, we have to consider all circumstances while planning; knowing how late it is, knowing the area they are in and if they have to walk or take transit by themselves.
In comparison to men, women usually are questioned about where they are going, who they are meeting and what they should do in case of emergency. Oftentimes, daughters encounter more strictness from parents than sons. Men are typically never told to take as many precautions as women are.
In comparison to men, women are constantly told to be aware of how ‘provocatively’ we dress and what substances may be put in our drinks if we put them down, even if it is for a split-second. We are constantly reminded and criticized for how we portray ourselves in public. As well as constantly told to watch after ourselves and our friends, but why are the people accountable not the main focus?
The impact of women being guided to approach situations differently as opposed to men has been a prevalent issue in today’s society.
This is not to say that men are never victims of violence. In fact, there are cases where men have been victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Minimizing their cases or putting them at any lower of a value is not the intention, because their cases matter as much as those of women.
This post is in actuality, intended to shine a light and bring awareness about all violence against women from not only here in Canada but in every country around the world.
It is aimed at kickstarting the discussion about these situations, topics and most importantly, the upcoming International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Nov. 25 will kickstart the United Nation’s 16-day campaign to honour and advocate for survivors, highlight activists from around the world and aim turn awareness into action.
The United Nations stated that activists have observed this day as a day against gender-based violence since 1981. Nov. 25 was selected as the date to honour the Mirabal sisters, activists from the Dominican Republic who were murdered in 1960 by order of the country’s ruler.
Since then, the United Nations began to pave a path to eliminating violence against women and girls worldwide.
This year, the theme they have chosen for the International day for the Elimination of Violence Against Womenis is “Orange the World, #HearMeToo.” This decision is intended to build the momentum of current movements and campaigns such as #TimesUP and #MeToo.
Initiatives and events will be taking place worldwide from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10.
University students at Ryerson and other post-secondary institutions can get involved on campus and around the city as many organizations are hosting events over the course of the 16 Days of Activism.
For Ryerson students specifically, Consent Comes First Ryerson, is hosting events including a “Masc Off” panel discussion on gender-based violence and a December 6 Memorial in memory of the victims of the L’Ecole Polytechnique mass shooting.
Other events around Toronto include Durham College’s panel to raise awareness on the forms of violence women are subjected to. As well as Women in International Security (WIIS) Canada’s lunch and roundtable discussion on gender-based violence in the Canadian Armed Forces.